Punggol wild boar rampage sparks fears for kids’ safety
Student care centre on high alert as hunt continues for boar believed to have attacked at least three people
A wild boar rampage in Punggol Walk last Saturday night has put a student care centre on high alert as news emerged yesterday of at least three people being injured in separate attacks.
Ms Grace Gan, the supervisor at YMCA Student Care Centre @ Punggol Waterway, said she learnt of the rampage on Sunday and was shocked that one attack had occurred within walking distance of the centre.
"Our main priority is the children's safety. So we have decided to stop all outdoor activities and games since the attack," the 56-year-old told The New Paper yesterday.
Other precautions such as keeping the gate of the centre locked at all times will continue.
"I also told the older children, who usually make their way to the centre themselves, not to loiter about. I don't know if these wild boars will attack during the day," Ms Gan added.
Residents also told TNP their concerns that children may fall prey to similar attacks.
From the timings of the attacks, which occurred at 10-minute intervals, with the first at 9.10pm near Block 308B Punggol Walk, it appears a single wild boar was the culprit.
A 36-year-old engineer who wanted to be known only as Mr Mohamed said he and his wife saw a boar walking on the road from their flat at Block 308B and took a video of it.
"Just a few minutes later, I heard a woman screaming from the ground floor. I knew someone was in danger," he told Chinese-language newspaper Shin Min Daily News.
As he rushed down to help the woman, a neighbour gave him an umbrella as protection.
The neighbour, a clerk who wanted to be known as Ms Chen, 45, told TNP yesterday that she had looked down and saw a woman being attacked by what she thought was a dog.
"I quickly called the police. But I was too scared to go down because I have a fear of dogs," she added.
After she gave Mr Mohamed her brolly, Ms Chen saw three to four people using sticks to beat the boar into releasing its grip on the woman.
A GrabFood delivery rider also sounded his motorcycle horn to frighten the animal, she said.
Mr Mohamed told Shin Min that when the boar finally let go of the victim's left leg, he told her to get behind him.
The boar then flashed its canines and glared at him, he added.
"I kept waving the umbrella at it as I didn't dare to get too close."
After the boar ran off towards Block 310A, he noticed the woman had injuries on her hands, thighs and legs, including a 5cm gash.
"As she cried, a resident brought a towel to stop the bleeding," he said.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said the woman was taken to Sengkang General Hospital (SKH).
In the second attack 10 minutes later at Block 310B, Mr A. Pan, a 36-year-old who works in IT, told TNP that he and his wife were jogging when they saw a boar charge at a man.
"The attack lasted only 10 to 15 seconds... and the boar ran away after that," he said.
The man, who had minor injuries on both legs, then left in a taxi to seek treatment at SKH.
The third attack occurred at Block 310A nearby. The SCDF said it received a call at 9.30pm and took one person to SKH.
Chinese-language evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported that other people also had encounters with the boar before its first attack.
A 65-year-old retiree identified as Mr Zheng told Wanbao that he was at Punggol Waterway Park when he saw a wild boar chasing a cyclist.
"I thought it was a dog at first. The boar was very big and chased the cyclist for more than 100m. It then knocked into three passers-by," he said.
It is not known if any of them was injured.
In a Facebook post on Sunday, MP for Punggol West SMC Sun Xueling said she had been in contact with the National Parks Board (NParks) and the police over the attacks.
"Twenty men were activated last night to look for the wild boar. They are still continuing to search for it to ensure it does not come near to residents," she added.
In an update last night, Ms Sun said she met the NParks team and contractors during a Meet-the-People session, and the contractors would patrol the area until 3am today.
Mr How Choon Beng, director of wildlife management and outreach at NParks, said that after it was alerted to the Punggol incidents, a team of 20 NParks officers and contractors were activated to patrol the area and search for the wild boar, and prevent further human-wildlife conflict.
The search went on through the weekend but there were no sightings of the wild boar.
"NParks will continue patrolling the area and has put up advisories on what the public should do if they encounter wild boars.
"In view of its tendency to stray into publicly accessible areas in search of human sources of food and the potential threat that they pose to public safety, the wild boar will be trapped and removed from the area," added Mr How.